Starbucks just released a new pumpkin flavored drink and the Halloween gear is starting to replace the patio furniture outside the supermarket. That must mean fall is near. If you’re anything like us, the first freeze hits us and we remember all those projects we wanted to do and never started—projects that will help protect our house and make it run more efficiently. This year, we’re starting early to get our house ready for the cold, and you can too.
Consider your window coverings
Conventional wisdom says you should trade out your lightweight draperies for something more substantial for the colder seasons. But sheers are great in fall and winter. Letting some sunlight trickle through can help heat the home while still providing privacy, and they can be added to any window, regardless of the type of treatment you already have.
Mulch. That. Yard.
“Should you mulch plants in the fall? The short answer is: yes! Mulching around plants in autumn has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds to protecting plants from moisture loss and shifts in temperature,” said Gardening Knowhow.
Invest in some covers for your good patio stuff
Every year we say we’re going to do this and every year we fail. Consequently, we had to replace our patio cushions this year far sooner than we would have liked. Don’t be like us. You can prolong the life of your patio furniture and grill with a good waterproof cover. “During the warmer months, your outdoor patio furniture likely gets a lot of use,” said Hayneedle. “In colder months, you probably spend less time outside and thus less time utilizing your outdoor furniture. If you live in an area that has a cold or wet climate in the winter, you will need to take steps to make sure that your patio furniture is properly protected from the elements.”
Get your heater checked
We get it. No one wants to turn their heater on when it’s 100 degrees outside. But what you really don’t want is to be faced with a broken heater when it’s 0 degrees outside. See if you can make an appointment now to get your system checked in October, and if your chosen company doesn’t schedule appointments that far in advance, at least make an appointment with yourself to make another call at the end of September.
Clean out your gutters
Clogged gutters can pose a danger to your home. Get them cleaned out now to make sure rain and snow can flow freely and isn’t being impeded by leaves and debris.
Do a chimney check
Schedule this well in advance to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the first chilly night hits.
Get a tree inspection
Heavy rain, wind, and snow can put pressure on tree limbs. You don’t want them snapping and ending up crashing through your roof or breaking a window. This is the perfect time to have them checked out.
Examine your utilities
Check current bills against the same time last year. Has your electric bill gone up dramatically year over year? You could have an air leak that needs to be addressed (more on that below). Is your water bill significantly higher than 12 months ago? You may have a dripping showerhead, a running toilet, or a problem with your hot water heater. Time to call a plumber!
Check for leaks around windows and doors
About those air leaks: Little leaks can cost you big time, and the sooner you deal with them, the sooner you can start saving money. “An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks,” said Houselogic. “The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors.”
You can easily check for leaks with incense. “With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement,” they said. Then it’s just a matter of adding caulking and weather stripping—both easy and inexpensive DIY fixes.